The Consumer Protection Council and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission are to enforce the mandatory 60 days directive to electricity distribution companies to provide meters for consumers.
The duo agreed that DISCOs should either meter or stop billing consumers under the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation scheme.
This was contained in a statement by the Head of Public Relations of CPC, Abiodun Obimuyiwa, on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to the statement, NERC, in its recent directive to DISCOs, ordered that customers who elected to procure meters under the CAPMI, must be metered within 60 days.
It said the electricity customers would neither be billed nor disconnected by the electricity distribution company in the case of failure by the DISCOs.
The statement said the duo agreed to collaborate to enforce the implementation of the order and other steps that would ensure environment conducive for consumers and investors in the sector.
According to the statement, the CPC Director-General, Dupe Atoki, condemned the seeming foot-dragging of DISCOs in metering consumers as outlined in their performance agreements with the government.
Atoki said in the statement that the companies had been committed in billing millions of consumers through estimated billings, which was not proper.
The statement said consumers should not be made to bear the brunt for so long without an end in sight.
It said: “Consumers who are paying for services that they have not fully enjoyed need protection.
“We understand that the CAPMI system is introduced to buffer the operators and to help them in the infrastructural challenge they have by making consumers to pay upfront.
“If consumers at the end don’t get the required supply of electricity and their funds is being used to support the infrastructural deficiency, then we wonder how that can rest well with us.
“It will therefore not be fair for consumers to continue to pay for meters when the meters are not installed at the prescribed period and they are being charged arbitrarily.
“I believe NERC has come up with a very sound directive that all consumers who have paid for meters should not be disconnected or billed if the meters have not been provided.”
The CPC boss in the statement commended the NERC for protecting the interest of consumers and that CPC was willing to work with NERC to implement this.
She said: “We are very excited about it and we are very interested in monitoring the implementation of the directive.
“This is in line with CPC vision to work with relevant government agencies for the betterment of consumers.
“A situation where a sector regulator builds walls around its areas of regulation is detrimental to the welfare of consumers.”
The acting Chairman of NERC, Dr. Anthony Akah, said in the statement that the collaboration was statutorily empowered to deal with all issues relating to consumers of goods and services in Nigeria.
The statement said NERC was determined to intensify enforcement of consumer protection regulations on metering, billing and the perennial complaints of estimated customers.
It said there would be concerted efforts to greatly reduce the incidence of estimated billing and eventually eliminating them completely.
Akah said: “The NERC will ensure strict adherence to the meter roll-out plan of DISCOs as enunciated in their performance agreements.
“Also, NERC will not tolerate wrongful estimates, compelling customers to buy, install and repair transformers, poles, unsafe electrical connections and other unsafe practices.”
The statement said the collaboration and a robust enforcement drive by the commission would ensure environment conducive for both investors and consumers in the Nigerian electricity supply industry.
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